Monday, 20 November, 2017

South Korean Judges Uphold President Park Geun-hye's Impeachment

A supporter of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye waves flags of the US and South Korea during a rally Majority of S.Koreans support President's impeachment: Survey
Saul Franklin | 12 March, 2017, 00:10

Formally removed from office by a historic Constitutional Court ruling Friday, Park Geun-hye has lost her presidential immunity from prosecution over a corruption scandal that has sent dozens of high-profile figures to face criminal trials.

Park was elected the nation's first female president in 2012, largely on the support of older conservative Koreans who revered her father, the nation's authoritarian president for 18 years.

South Korea's president was kicked out of office Friday after the country's Constitutional Court upheld her impeachment-and while much of the country is celebrating, loyal supporters are furious. Park was also accused of neglecting her duties during the 2014 Sewol ferry sinking that killed more than 300, but the judges said the charge did not warrant deliberation by the court. "She had one more year left as "president" but, now she's been ousted, she will be investigated as a common criminal", the North Korean mouthpiece Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a brief dispatch.

For months she has refused to make herself available for questioning by prosecutors probing the scandal.

The 65-year-old, whose term as the 11th president of South Korea had been due to end in February 2018, was impeached by the local parliament on December 9 on multiple corruption charges, including allowing a close friend, Choi Soon-sil, to meddle in state affairs and colluding with her to extort money from big businesses such as Samsung. Check back for updates.

Park was accused of bribery and abuse of power by allegedly conspiring with her friend, Choi Soon-sil, a private citizen, to extort money from businesses.

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South Korea must now hold an election within two months to choose Park's successor. She spent the night in the presidential Blue House though would leave at some time and return to her Seoul residence, a spokesman said.

Earlier, the country's acting president called on his administration to heal the deep divisions inside South Korea. A left-wing government would also place into question the continued deployment in South Korea of a United States missile defense system, which is bitterly opposed by China.

Park's supporters want her to stay in power.

A new election could change the political landscape of South Korea.

Park was impeached by the South Korean parliament in December 2016, and Choi has been arrested.

Park's lawyer disparaged the verdict as coming from a "kangaroo court". Moon Jae-in, liberal and leader of the Democratic Party, is now ahead in the polls.

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